Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Power of Making Lists

I am a strong believer in the power of making lists. I make "to do" lists at work and at home. I also have "to buy", "to pay", "to clean or repair" and "goal" lists. Why keep lists?

1. To keep organized. Setting things down on paper helps me to prioritize, to figure out what I need to do and decide how to allocate my time.

2. So that I remember. Numerous studies show that our memories simply cannot be relied on (although I cannot remember where I've read that), so I keep lists. Sometimes I forget to look at my "to do" list, but will invariably stumble upon it later and sure enough will be reminded of something I forgot to do.

3. To save time. I spend less time trying to figure out what needs to get done when I have a pre-existing list to refer to.

4. To keep me motivated. Nothing is more satisfying than checking something off on my "to do" list. I think I would often feel that I was not making any progress in life if it weren't for the fact that I could look back on a list of checked items to remind me that I've accomplished something, even if only having paid my bills.

5. So that I make progress. I find that when I sit down to make a list, I will come up with things that I should and want to do (as opposed to just need to do). So in the process I end up setting goals for myself.

6. To strengthen my commitment. Often, when I set a goal for myself, I make a point to tell someone about it. Something about "getting it out there" makes it more likely that I'll follow through on an idea . I find something similar happens when I write it down on paper.

7. To save money. When I make lists of items I need or want to purchase, I am making concrete decisions about how to spend my hard-earned money, and am less likely to make impulse buys or ill-considered purchases. Even if I end up buying something that I do not need or make a mistake, ultimately, I find I am still in control.

8. For my spirit. Sitting down and making lists, puts me closer in touch with what it is that makes me happy and what I want from life. For me, it is a meditative exercise and I always walk away with greater clarity of mind and peace in my heart.

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